Friday, Oct. 17, 2003 | 6 a.m.
Sheriff Bill Young has our vote as the bravest man in the state -- he's asking for a tax increase. Good for him. Ignoring the anti-tax demagoguery that has made so many other public officials wilt, Young is advocating an increase in property taxes to improve public safety.
After what happened during the 2003 Legislature when increased taxes were championed by Gov. Kenny Guinn -- unending rancor, two special sessions and the Nevada Supreme Court leaping into the fray -- the governor is waving a white flag. Although he acknowledges the state will be tens of millions of dollars short of meeting its obligations by 2005, Guinn is saying he will not again initiate a drive for new and higher taxes.
In contrast, Young is starting a campaign to raise a million dollars in private funds, which he will use in an advertising campaign to educate voters that Metro Police is a dangerously understaffed department. The ads will explain that revenue from a property tax increase will enable the department to hire between 500 and 800 more police officers.
We respect Young for looking at the demographics of Clark County and going public with his interpretation of what they mean. Officeholders in the past have known the statistics but kept quiet, fearing their time in office would be cut short if they told voters that our growth was going to cost them. The harsh reality is that Clark County is netting between 6,000 and 8,000 new residents a month and the police department cannot stand pat -- it must grow to meet the need.
Young will begin his drive for more officers in earnest early next year. One of his strong arguments will be the steady drop in the number of officers for every 1,000 Clark County residents. The national average is 2.5 officers for every 1,000. Here, we have 1.67 officers for every 1,000. With crime on the rise -- last year saw a 12 percent increase -- this is no time for our police department to lose strength. We will be listening when Young begins his campaign. We hope every resident of the valley does the same.